Clips from my blog about our trip (please ignore any gramar errors)
So we finally arrive in Chicago, take a taxi to the hotel and get our stuff in the room and immediately head out for pizza. Now it so happens that the hotel is a simple two blocks from a Gino’s East joint plus Gino’s has an agreement with local hotels for priority seating of out of town guests and a free order of breadsticks. So we walk to restaurant, give them our priority seating pass (which wasn’t really needed since it was only 4 pm and before the major rush) and once we are seated we give the waitress our free breadsticks coupon. William and Preston (11 & 10) decide to get the individual thin crust (1 cheese, 1 pepperoni) while Angel and I split a small deep dish sausage. Since we were so hungry, we had them bring everything out when they were done, not all at once. So the breadsticks came right out and went right down, very delicious. The boys’ thin crusts came out cut in squares and as a devoted father I tried a square of each. The overall pizza was good, but the crust a little hard for my taste. They also had a lot of cheese, and I mean a lot.
Now it was main event time, our deep dish was out and it was beautiful. Fulfilling all the stereotypes it was in a deep pan and had a thick crust. The dough is obviously allowed to rise in the pan after it is patted out. Lots of cheese and a sausage patty topped with a seasoned, crushed tomato sauce. It was like a dream come true. Yeah, it was that damn good. Angel and I quickly devoured the pizza and we knew then that our trip was worth it.
A quick history lesson: Pizzeria Uno is where Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza got started. Despite having the same corporate owners it is not the same pizza served at Uno Chicago Grill, the casual dining restaurant that evolved out of the Pizzeria Uno franchises.
Pizzeria Uno looks like a bar that just happens to serve deep dish pizza. It has a very limited menu and very limited seating. (Tip to travelers, a block away is Pizzeria Due, Uno’s sister restaurant with the same menu, same pizza, and more places to sit.) Like other deep dish places when you go put your name on the waiting list you can order your pizza. Drinks and other items wait until you are seated. So we are told it will be 20 minutes and I order a small half cheese, half pepperoni for the boys and small sausage for Angel and me. We get seated get our drinks and continue our wait (real deep dish pizza takes around 45 minutes to prepare and cook). So our pizzas come out and we are all in heaven. Uno’s pizza had a thick bottom crust with a thin pulled up edge. The tomato “sauce” was very chunky and not seasoned beyond some oregano and parmesan sprinkled on top. I have heard stories that the quality of the pizza at Uno has declined over the years, but as good as these were I find that hard to believe. There was nothing left once the four of us had completed our meal. We spent the rest of the evening again exploring the Magnificent Mile before returning and crashing again. The good news is we were getting a good cardio workout from all the walking.
If you have watched any Food Network shows where they had deep dish pizza then you know about Lou Malnati’s. Yet again, arriving before the main rush we got seated right away and were served some glasses of water. Heading towards dehydration we all quickly drank it down and I almost felt bad for our waiter as he came to get our drink order and all we wanted was water. He brought us a pitcher of ice water which gone by the time we were done with the meal. This time the boys ordered a medium thin crust half cheese, half pepperoni while Angel and I stayed with the small deep dish sausage. One difference here is Malnati’s offers a “butter crust” for about 75 cents more. From what I could get out of the waiter a seasoned butter is spread across the dough prior to topping. Honestly, I couldn’t tell if it made any real difference based on the other pizzas we had before. The pizzas came out with the thin in a pan similar to the deep dish, with traditionally cut pizza slices, a crisp bottom, but soft top. It certainly wasn’t like other Chicago thin crusts I had seen. Although thicker than the thin crust, this deep dish was the thinnest of the three we tried with a thin, pulled up edge. The tomato “sauce” was a lot like Uno’s but perhaps a little sweeter. Once more the four of us consumed almost everything in front of us and I learned from the three places that I don’t put nearly enough cheese on my homemade pizzas. When Angel asked which one we liked the best Preston answered, “All three were really good.” I can’t add to that.
If someone only had a chance to go to one place on a quick trip I would recommend Malnati’s as it was the best priced of the three and had a more “restaurant” feel to it.
On the whole, I’d say it was a great trip. How did the rest of the family feel about it? Well I wanted to go to Chicago and they came with me. By the end they were all talking about what we needed to do when we went next time. I’m all for that, there are a lot more pizza places that I need to try.